One other thing I wanted to mention. If you have the money and you wanted to see your images really "take-off" as it were, invest in an incident light meter. Any camera shop can give you info on one. I rarely use an on-board (built into the camera) camera meter because they are just too limiting. If you are in a situation where you're in the same light as the planes or whatever scenes you're shooting, (probably most times we are) an incident meter will get you perfectly exposed images if you understand how it works and it's not difficult at all--you'll be very satisfied, Dave, trust me. Even if you're not in the same light, after a while, your eye will become more adept at noticing the differences and you can make an appropriate change in exposure.
Don't get me wrong, camera meters have their place and there are a few times when I do choose the cam meter over the incident meter, but that's rare. All on-board camera meters are dependent on a reflectance of 18% gray which happens sometimes but we have absolutely no guarantee from scene to scene which is reflecting a brightness of 18% gray. And of course some of the more recent cameras have more advanced matrix metering which does a pretty good job. Even then, I would still invest in an incident meter. You have greater control.
There are many brands, Gossen, Sekonic...Minolta makes several, one is about $250 (at b&h in NYC) and is also a flash meter which would be helpful if you were ever shooting with strobes (still-lifes, fashion or people shots, architectural interiors...)
If you want to see your shots advance another step, if you want more consistency and predictability in your shooting, buy and learn how to use an incident light meter. They're great. sorry this sounds like an ad! oh well...
Also, I think you had a question about slide film...I believe you will find that although neg film can give some great color and clarity, and is capable of being used in some pretty dim light, the best color comes from chromes (slide film). It's pretty much the photography industry standard medium. Not for weddings and portraiture, but rather for the printing side of the industry. And it needs to be exposed very accurately, thus an incident meter would be very helpful.
In my opinion, Fuji Provia 100F is the film to beat although its archiveability is still up in the air. It is awesome film with unbelieveable color and non-existent grain, or very near. I also use Fuji 800 press, a neg film which is very sharp for a speed of 800--it still blows my mind that an 800 neg film could be that sharp! Sorry to be so long-winded!!